Monday 19 March 2018

Army judge retires to decide fate of WikiLeaks soldier


A military judge has begun deciding the fate of US soldier Bradley Manning, who could face life in prison for giving thousands of pieces of classified information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in one of the largest leaks in US history.

The prosecution says the 25-year-old is a glory-seeking traitor. His defence lawyers call him a naive whistleblower who was horrified by wartime atrocities but didn't know that the material he leaked would end up in the hands of al-Qaeda.

Colonel Denise Lind began deliberating this weekend after hearing nearly two months of conflicting evidence about the intelligence analyst. A military judge, not a jury, is hearing the case at Mr Manning's request.

The most serious of the 21 charges against him is aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence.

Mr Manning leaked video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack showing US troops firing heavy machine guns into a small crowd of men on a Baghdad footpath, killing civilians, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. His lawyers said the killing of civilians horrified the young soldier.

"You have to look at that from the point of view of a guy who cared about human life," his lawyer said, adding that Mr Manning had hoped revealing what was going on would inspire debate and reform in foreign and military policy.

After his arrest in May 2010, Manning was held alone for nine months in a windowless cell 23 hours a day, sometimes with no clothing.

Jailers at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, said they considered him a suicide risk.

Colonel Lind later ruled Mr Manning had been illegally punished and should get 112 days off any prison sentence he receives.

Sunday Independent

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